maferefun sango!!!

kawo! kabiyesile!

thank you, baba, for sending my brother my way. i love love love LOVE that boy to pieces. thank you. we are each other’s cheer leader, each other’s comic relief, & most importantly we have a taciturn understanding that can be expressed simply by the raising of an eyebrow. my brother is so sharp, too. thank you for bringing a sharply dressed black man around me, one who actually compliments me and means it. he is not trying to sleep with me (not that i know of). he is socially conscious, and gives a damn about his folks. he will entertain my conversations about all things sociopolitical, & never once calls me ‘too smart.’ we crack nerd jokes & he never, ever, EVER tells me i think too much/ too hard.

i’m blessed to have a friend like vsf. i love that crazy child. i do.

adupe.

red tail feathers: a story from the holy odu.

retold by my dear sister/friend myra louise jenkins the fifth who knows everything.

from the odu Ose

Parrot
was the favorite wife of the king
and AAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL of the other wives were jealous of her

the other wives decided to paint Parrot’s stool with a poison
so that when she sat on it
her back side became red

Parrot was HORRIFIED!!!!

and to top it all off
there was a huge festival coming up
all of the king’s wives were supposed to dance
and they’d all decided that they were going to dance in the nude

Parrot went to the king
sayin’ “baby i can’t dance in the nude like THIS!!!!”
so he told the wives not to dance in the nude this time
they all agreed
and chose another dance to do

the day of the festival arrived
and the time came for the dance of the king’s wives to begin
the drummers started to play the rhythm called
“in the nude”
“in the nude”
and the other wives began to take their clothing off
Parrot stripped down as well

and they all began to dance in the nude

the rulers of the neighboring kingdoms saw parrot’s red bottom and said
“what is this wondrous thing???”

“we have never seen its like!”

“our destinies are not in order!”

“if you will not give it to us, will you sell it to us?”

and Parrot and the king
began to sell red tail feathers
and Parrot became very wealthy
and the king became very wealthy

what was once Parrot’s blemish
became her blessing

“Spoilers are not as rare as Improvers
Improvers are not as numerous as Spoilers
but those who seek to spoil me actually improve me.”

vamp.

i’ve never been one to do a lot of red. i always thought big girls ought not rock colors that bright; i always used to want to be left alone, to my own devices & business without drawing attn to myself. i already stood out physically. why add to it?
then one day when i was in high school my grandmother, mother & i were in the jc penney outlet. & there was this shirt i wanted. i loved it. i wanted it in navy, but it only came in red. with simple white piping around the collar. my concession, since momzie & mommy thought it looked so nice was, well, to get it in a 3x (just for the record, no part of my body has ever been a 3x ANYTHING, even at my heaviest). so i had this tent-like shirt. it was part of my “going away to college” arsenal. so, i only wore it when everything else was dirty. because it was red. & my simple ass didn’t realize that more fabric = bigger clothing = more attention.

as i’ve aged, i have more or less stayed away from brights. red, green . . . as accent colors only. i have print clothing that tends to be on the docile side (w/ the exception of a cocktail dress here & there). . . & the only bright i ever really stuck with was bright pink.

then i found out that i’m omo sango. his colors are red + white. when olaomi told me that i was like “dangit. that means i’ma HAVE to wear red at some point or another. i don’t do red.” i kinda panicked. red hair is one thing (auburn is my summer color of choice), but red clothing? eh . . .

but i’m getting better. tryna grow into who i am. baba’s got me. yeye & my ancestors have got me. most importantly, my ori is doin its thing. i even own a red dress(!!!)

at 26, my first red manicure. hmm. i kinda like it.

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someone asked me once

why i’m not a christian.
i had to politely explain to them that my primary motivation is that christ’s teachings, though valuable from what i’ve gleaned, are no justification for me to worship him. he was a man. i don’t believe he was god’s son any less or more than i am god’s daughter. period. it’s not a gender thing. i’ve never felt comfortable referring to jesus as my savior. i was the queen of gospel choir in undergrad & high school, but more because i love singing. i wasn’t blaspheming; my faith in god is simply unshakable. however, singing “jesus is real” always feels like a conflict for me; the clark sisters’ “you brought the sunshine” is one of my absolute favorite gospel songs but i harmonize along w/ twinkie & them because i love that song. it’s kind of difficult to explain, but most of my girlfriends who’re non christians feel the same way. especially those of us who grew up worshiping in what’s considered the black american tradition. it’s a given. you love god with all your might and the time to really demonstrate it is sunday at church. give god the glory, praise, and honor; your blessings are yours because he gives them to you. there’s another component to that which i call the hurry up & wait factor but i’ll get into that another time.

i learned to show my faith when i was a child. you must claim god, you must tell the whole world that you worship jesus. i don’t know if it’s an actual bible verse (i haven’t read the book in ages & would like to dedicate actual focus to doing so) but i was constantly told by various church folk that if i were ashamed of christ, he’d be ashamed of me before his father. okay. so that, to my 11-year-old mind, was the ultimate guilt trip. i was fat, didn’t have some extravagant relaxed hairdo like my classmates, had ridiculous acne & was NOT tryna have anyone else be embarrassed by me. so i learned all the dogma & put up the front like nobody’s business. i was just waiting to feel jesus working in my life. i didn’t know that everything is a blessing, even when it’s not what i want. i was told that praying and waiting were the way to go. but i was a child. you know i prayed that god would exact revenge for me against all those rotten ass kids in my class who did me dirty. and by the time i was in 7th grade i couldn’t believe that any of my schoolmates (or administrators for that matter) at blair christian academy were actual followers of christ by virtue of the fact that 3 girls were kicked out of the high school for being pregnant by the time i was ready to enter eighth grade. then, when went back to public school i had begun to realize that i was a christian at a christian school because i didn’t know what else to be.
i felt it was necessary because that was the tone of the school, that was the culture, etc. we were not outright graded on how faithful we were, but there were always comments on my report cards about how i was growing in christ.
why did i have to grow in christ?
why couldn’t i just grow?
it upset me. i loved anita baker’s music and could not believe for one minute that god was gonna send me to hell for listening to secular music. i tried to shake myself of it. but i couldn’t. tlc’s first album was my favorite. i couldn’t live without sneaking to listen to the chronic, the u.m.c’s, or whatever was on the radio. when atliens came out, i couldn’t get to my radio fast enough. i was making pause tapes until i graduated from high school. if listening to michael jackson’s off the wall was a sin, then screw it. i’d have to answer to the lord for that.
i attended a quaker high school. the quaker ideals were much more realistic to me: the inner light, service to others, quiet reflective meditation. this was something i could really get with. but quakers weren’t the right kind of christians, so i could learn about quakerism allllllll i wanted to. i’d just be out of my mind to attempt to practice it in that house. i was on gospel choir. that was the jesus showcase, you hear me? quakerism wasn’t as christ intensive as many black folk like. so it wasn’t goin down.

my grandmother died when i was 2 weeks shy of my 18th birthday. i think that, at that exact moment i stopped believing in jesus altogether. it wasn’t about him taking her away from me; she had copd & was really gonna go anyway. i believed in jesus (or claimed i did) for her. she had to know i was bullshitting, though; who doesn’t know a child that they’ve essentially raised? at any rate, her funeral felt crazy to me. i felt god all around me but couldn’t call on jesus while i sat there and wondered why there was such a thing as an open casket funeral for anyone who’d been very ill. her skin was green, for crying out loud. i’m supposed to call on jesus when i know i’m finna have nightmares for months on end? nope. i had to tell my grandmother directly, “please get some rest, momzie. get some peace.” she hasn’t been in my dreams since. it’s been 9 years.

as i entered my anti-organized religion twenties, i became everything that that embodied a sinner. i drank, smoked weed, picked up a cigarette habit, had all kinds of sex, cursed a lot, stole, & took the lord’s name in vain almost nonstop. i felt good about my life. i never thought “coming to jesus” was gonna fix any of my problems. i knew it was incumbent upon me to make things right, to balance myself.

so as i began to do that, i found ifa. i haven’t looked back since. i love my religion. i feel great about it & nobody’s gonna change that. every day i learn a little bit more about the goodness of the universe.

maybe i’ll edit this for clarity/ cusswords & make my mom read it. so she can understand that i’m not turning my back on god or worshiping the devil. maybe.

well

osun works quickly. lol. maferefun yeye laketi! adupe-o.

i feel blessed & highly favored
i feel like it’s all very possible . . . whatever it is i want.

good.
cuz i was getting sick of feeling life kicking me in the shins every time i stepped fwd.

today

is odunde.

i need the prayer, the reflection.
i need to go to the river w/ some honey, cinnamon sticks, & an orange for my girl oyin.
it’s important that i talk to yeye & say thank you; asking for things is okay, but giving thanks is most important.

so that’s what i’m about to do. i wrote this prayer the other day, which i sent to atlanta, omi, & oyin:

may the money we get our hands on, be money we can KEEP our hands on;
may the love that we direct towards others be ever magnified & reflected
upon us tenfold;
may even the roughest days give us sweet moments to appreciate & cherish;
& most importantly, may we always revel in the fact that we are conduits
of the energy of the most high oludumare.
let it be so.
¡aché!

i suck at praying.

that is, the way i was taught to pray (eyes shut, head bowed, on my knees & in the most respectful tone possible) isn’t how i like to pray. i like to pray at random. i like to pray in my head most of the time, or in written form. when i pray out loud, it feels like i’m talkin to one of my girls instead of asking god something. or telling my grandmother that she needs to get her husband and kids and grandkids before i smack someone. i don’t really know how to do ritualistic prayer. i don’t know how to be small before god, because i feel that the god in me keeps me from being small in so many other situations. that thread makes me feel connected to everyone/ thing around me . . . how can i feel small as part of something so massive? if i manifest the power of every living, breathing thing around me . . . how am i small? i mean, i know i am. one in 7 billion humans. but if prayer is all about submission, if faith is about submission to the will of the almighty, how do i even begin to feel that way?

i guess that’s why i feel like ifa is home.

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